Placement FAQs for COVID-19

PLACEMENTS - HEALTH

Are clinical health placements continuing?

We take our duty of care to our students and communities seriously. The University is working closely with and following Department of Health (DH) advice about health student placements. We are updating students and placement providers regularly as this advice changes so please monitor these FAQs for the most up to date information.

DH currently supports the continuation of health placements and the College of Science, Health and Engineering at La Trobe University is continuing or commencing student health placements as scheduled where possible. On-site placements will be subject to additional COVID safety measures, as host organisations need to confirm for La Trobe that they are complying with the government’s COVID-19 WorkSafe advice. We will continue placements until otherwise advised by DH or the placement facility/host organisation.

DH has requested Healthcare Services and Universities prioritise placements for final year students where necessary. Our placements operations team is working with all healthcare partners to ensure as many students as possible can undertake their scheduled clinical placements. The team will be in contact with you if your placement is affected.

We will let you know as soon as possible if a placement is cancelled, or arrangements have been altered, but also please make sure you follow the advice given by your placement provider.

Please contact the placements team or your subject coordinator if you have any specific questions.

Can I undertake more than one placement at the same time across different locations?

No, current DH advice states that concurrent placements across different sites should not be undertaken at the same time.

Can I undertake more than one placement at the same time across different locations?

No, current DHHS advice states that concurrent placements across different sites should not be undertaken at the same time.

Can I undertake consecutive placements?

Yes, once one placement has been completed, you may then start another placement. However, placements must not overlap. Additional requirements apply if your first placement was affected by a COVID outbreak - please see additional FAQs below.

Is a certain time period required in between different placement locations?

No. Provided your previous placement has not experienced any active outbreaks of COVID-19, you may start your next placement once the previous one has finished.

Will I be placed in a COVID ward or COVID testing clinic?

No, current DH advice is that students should not undertake placement in healthcare settings with patients known or suspected of being COVID positive.

Can I undertake paid work in a healthcare setting at the same time as placement?

Based on DH advice, there may be restrictions on your employment in a healthcare setting and ability to undertake health placement in a different setting at the same time. Where possible, La Trobe recommends pausing healthcare related work during your placement. Your placement facility may also make a recommendation and if this occurs La Trobe University will advise you of their requirements.

If you have a work and health placement related concern or questions, please contact your La Trobe University placement coordinator.

Can I undertake paid work in a non-healthcare setting at the same time as placement?

Yes, provided your place of employment does not have active cases of COVID-19 you may undertake non-healthcare employment whilst attending placement.

My place of employment has experienced a COVID outbreak – am I allowed on placement?

DH advises that if a student’s place of employment has recently experienced an active outbreak of COVID they may be required to undergo testing and quarantine. Affected students should follow the advice of their employer and DH and may not be allowed to undertake placement until they have received clearance from DH.

Can I undertake placement if I have attended a hotel quarantine site within the last 14 days?

No, the DH requirement is that students must not undertake placement in healthcare settings if they have undertaken a placement and/or volunteered at a hotel quarantine site within the last 14 days. Please contact your La Trobe University placement coordinator if this affects you.

My health and wellbeing – where do I get support?

The University recognises that this is a particularly challenging time for many people. Please remember La Trobe has a range of health and wellbeing services available to you which can be accessed remotely and 24/7 at Health and Wellbeing page.

Am I eligible for government or other financial assistance if I cannot work due to testing/quarantine requirements?

Victorian workers who are unable to attend their paid shifts due to testing and awaiting test results may be eligible for the Government’s  Test Isolation Payment.

Workers that test positive for COVID or are a close contact of confirmed case may be eligible for a government funded ‘Worker Support Payment’ whilst they complete quarantine.

Please refer to: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/covid-19-worker-support-payment for information regarding the above two payments.

Students may also apply to the university for additional support or financial assistance if they are experiencing significant hardship. Please refer to the Student FAQs listed under Student Support and Financial Assistance for additional information.

Please refer to Student financial support for information on LTU financial assistance.

How do I stay safe on my health placement?

The health, safety and wellbeing of our students, including those completing approved course-related health placements, is our highest priority.

The Australian Government has a 30 minute online training module for healthcare workers about infection prevention and control for COVID-19. It is essential that you complete this module prior to commencing placement for your own safety and the safety of other people you will interact with on placement.

If the number of patients positive for COVID-19 in healthcare facilities rises it is possible you will provide care to an affected patient despite the fact that you will not be placed in COVID or Suspected-COVID wards, or asked to provide care to individuals known to be affected by COVID-19. While on placement, you should follow the advice of your clinical placement coordinator or supervisor about infection control, social distancing, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene protocols.

Depending on where you are undertaking your placement, you may need to dress in civilian clothing while travelling to and from placement and only wear your uniform while at your placement. Please ensure you wash your uniform or work clothing in hot water at the end of each shift. Please check with your placement co-ordinator at your placement health service for site specific uniform or clothing requirements.

Please also consider the safety of those in your household. Ensure you practice appropriate personal hygiene including washing your hands and ideally showering upon returning home at the end of your shift and consider whether you need to practice social distancing within your home while undertaking placement.

All people must follow the Victorian Department of Health (DH) guidelines.

Please speak to your subject/course coordinator or placement supervisor if you have any questions about the use of PPE or infection control principles related to your placement or any concerns about your placement’s COVID Safety practices.

If I contract COVID-19 while on placement (non COVID-19 testing site), would the University’s ‘personal accident and sickness policy’ cover me?

If you contract COVID-19 on placement:

  • The policy does not provide compensation for any medical costs incurred, as this is catered for either via Medicare, or your Private Health Insurance.
  • If the case of COVID-19 is severe and results in surgery, you may be entitled to claim for a lump sum benefit.
  • If you are unable to work as a result of contracting COVID-19, there is no cover for loss of earnings.
  • You do not have access to Workcover as you are not an employee.
  • Our insurer has declined to extend cover to include sickness, which is consistent across the insurance market.
  • Any income protection not afforded by government assistance may be considered by LTU.

Following the recent partnership between the private and public health sectors; will international students continue to be covered under their private health insurance?

The private sector has opened up their facilities to support the public sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – international students with private insurance would continue to receive medical treatment under their private health insurance (subject to T&Cs of their individual policies).

I am volunteering in the medical industry – will LTU’s insurance cover me if I contract COVID-19?

No, volunteers must be insured under the insurance of the organisation they are volunteering for.

I still have questions about my health placement, who should I contact?

If you have immediate health placement related concerns or questions, please contact your Course/Subject Coordinator or La Trobe University placement coordinator.

PLACEMENTS - TEACHING AND OTHER NON-CLINICAL

How will my placement be affected?

Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Placements

All Initial Teacher Education placements will continue unless the educational setting has postponed the placement to a later date. Your Placement Operations team will be in touch with you to notify you whether your placement will be going ahead. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your placement please contact assc.placements@latrobe.edu.au

Non-clinical/Non-Initial Teacher Education Work-Based Learning (WBL) placements

Most placements outside of clinical health or initial teacher education settings (e.g. in IT, Engineering, Science, non-clinical Health, Agriculture, Law, Business and Humanities) are currently able to occur on-site within the workplace if the placement outcomes and activities cannot be achieved from home. For all such on-site placements, students must adhere strictly to their host organisation’s COVIDSafe Plan. As with all WBL placements, you must have received formal approval from La Trobe for the placement, with a WBL agreement in place.

WBL guidelines and requirements are being regularly reviewed and updated in response to government advice on COVID-19. Weekly emails are being sent to all placement students to provide information on placement restrictions. As a placement student, you must read these weekly emails carefully and act in accordance with La Trobe and government requirements for placement at all times.

If you have queries related to your WBL placement, please contact:

How do I stay safe on my placement?

The health, safety, and wellbeing of our students, including those completing approved course-related placements, is our highest priority. To stay safe on your placement, you must follow the protocols put in place by your placement organisation, which should be in line with the government’s COVID-19 WorkSafe advice as explained here. You should maintain a safe social distance (1.5 metres), sanitise your hands regularly, clean your work surfaces, and monitor yourself for any symptoms.

PLACEMENTS - GENERAL

What happens if my placement is postponed or cancelled?

If your placement facility/educational setting/host organisation postpones or cancels your placement as a result of COVID-19 you will receive an email from the Placement Operations team notifying you of this. Academic staff and the Placement Operations team will be working collaboratively on alternative placement options. Individual plans will be communicated to any affected students by your Placement Officer.

For health placements, it is likely that there will be significantly delayed in finding alternative option due to the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare facilities.

For non-clinical placements, cancellations will be handled on a case-by-case or subject-by-subject basis, and the options available to you should be discussed with your subject coordinator, WIL team or Placement Operations team.

For Teacher Education placements, you are able to continue with your subject and your result may be entered as SAHA (Supplementary Additional Hurdle Assessment) on your transcript until the placement hurdle has been successfully completed.

If I am completing my placement from home, are there any steps I need to follow?

Yes. You will be sent an OH&S guide/self-assessment and some tips for safely and successfully completing a placement off-site. You should review the checklist and use it to ensure you have a safe and productive home workspace. You should also ensure that you have regular contact with both your subject coordinator and your host supervisor.

Will professional accreditation be impacted?

The University is working closely with professional accrediting bodies to ensure that any changes to your subjects or placements do not negatively affect accreditation.

What if I get sick on placement?

Any students who become unwell on placement need to follow the advice of their allocated placement facility/educational setting/host organisation, inform the Placement Operations team and seek medical advice to obtain a medical certificate. The potential impacts of any sickness during placement will be managed on an individual basis.

If I am feeling even slightly unwell, should I attend placement? or have COVID-19 symptoms, have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting results, have been in close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19, or are positive for COVID-19?

If you are feeling unwell, do not attend placement. No matter how mild the symptoms, you should stay at home. If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (including fever, cough, sore throat, chills, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of smell), however mild, you should:

  • self-isolate immediately
  • seek medical advice from your GP or the DH 24-hour coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398, and get tested
  • tell your placement organisation, your Placement Operations Team and the University as soon as possible, following the procedures your workplace has in place and updating both parties if your situation changes (for example if you receive a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnosis).

It is crucial that you do not attend University campus or your placement, or anywhere else, until you are advised it is safe for you to do so. You must advise the University of your health status.

If you have been informed by Public Health authorities that you are a close contact of a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 you must follow the instructions provided by Department of Health and inform the University.

If you are unable to attend your placement because you are unwell, regardless of the cause, you must contact your course coordinator and La Trobe University placement coordinator to advise them. We will work with the placement provider to assist you to complete the required hours/assessments at a later date.

What if I am in a high-risk category of contracting COVID-19 or I have carer responsibilities for others who are in a high-risk category and can’t attend placement?

Please provide medical documentation to the Placement Operations team and your case will be managed on an individual basis.

Can I opt out of placement?

Where you have significant concerns for your health and wellbeing, or the health and wellbeing of others living in your home, you can choose to opt-out of placement.

However, it’s important to note that completing your accredited program of study requires completion of all approved activities (including professional placement). Your course progression and completion date may be affected by your choice to opt-out at this time, so it is important to seek guidance from your year or course coordinator. We cannot guarantee when an alternative placement will be available, so if you are currently in your final year of study, opting out may delay your course completion so that you graduate and/or become registered for your profession later than you expected.

Opting out of placement will not result in a fail for the placement subject. The exact arrangements will depend on your specific course and registration requirements. Your subject and course coordinators are working through these issues and will communicate with you via the LMS and individually as required. The most likely scenario is that we will organise for you to receive a 'Grade Withheld' (W) result for the subject associated with your placement until the placement requirements have been completed. We will work with the placement provider to assist you to complete the required hours/assessments at a later date.

If you are considering opting out, you will need to:

  • Discuss this with your placement supervisor and La Trobe subject coordinator, and also contact the Placement Operations team, if you are already on placement.
  • Contact your La Trobe subject coordinator or year coordinator by email, if you are not yet on placement.
  • Complete the online form and upload a copy of the email correspondence with your subject or year level coordinator as a supporting document.
  • Where possible, please notify us of your decision to opt-out at least 1 week before a placement is due to commence.